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Focus Archive - September 2011

Please note that Focus section links were valid at the time of their original posting. However, since Web sites and addresses change frequently, we cannot guarantee that all links will remain operative.

It is a Matter of Scale (September 28)
Getting the urban scale right has been the mantra of planners and architects for ages. But have we been practicing what we have been preaching? More from New Urban Network.

Urban Office Momentum (September 28)
The U.S. office market has shifted its geographic momentum this year, with central business districts (CBDs) and popular urban corridors recovering better than suburban markets. More from Urban Land.

Guide to Help Cities Attract Foreign Investment, Expand Trade (September 28)
A new NLC Center for Research and Innovation guide, “Strategies for Globally Competitive Cities: Local Roles in Foreign Direct Investment and International Trade,” provides local leaders with practical tools, resources and promising practices to create stronger global linkages.

Public Libraries: A New Type of Town Square (September 28)
While their core mission remains information, literacy, and public education, today’s libraries act as a new type of town square, a place where people of all ages and backgrounds seek help, connect with others, and get access to the information and services they need. More from ICMA.

Politics Aside: Climate Science Makes Business Sense (September 28)
A growing number of Main Street and regional business leaders are taking the issue of climate change ever-more seriously, if not to save the world, at least to serve their bottom lines. More from Citiwire.

How a County Reduces Homeless and Jail Populations (September 28)
Unlike most shelters, this one offers a place for people with mental illness and substance use problems to avoid jail and better their situations. More from Governing.

Plan it and Scan it: QR Codes Find Fans in Counties (September 28)
The bar code of the future has arrived in many counties, helping them accelerate commerce and spread information. More from NACo's County News.

How Counties are ‘Fairing’ (September 28)
The current economic situation has affected county budgets and citizen incomes, which have had varying impacts on county fairs across the nation. More from NACo's County News.

EPA Releases Climate Ready Water Utilities Toolbox (September 28)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its Climate Ready Water Utilities Toolbox, which provides access to more than 500 resources that support climate adaptation planning at water utilities. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

IRS Announces Use of Employer-Provided Cellular Phones is a Tax-Free Fringe Benefit (September 21)
Last September, Section 2043 of the Small Business Act of 2010 removed cellular telephones and similar equipment from the Internal Revenue Code definition of “listed property.” What we didn’t know, however, was whether the business use of such devices still had to be substantiated in some way in order for the use to be tax-free. Now, with the publication of IR-2011-93, we have clarification.

Expert Interviews Instead of Exit Interviews (September 21)
A Colorado utilities department is conducting written and video exit interviews with current staffers now so their future replacements know who to work with and how to do the job. More from Governing.

Counties Move Auctions Online to Increase Revenue (September 21)
In an economy in which county governments have been forced to do more with less — a cliché that seems to be here to stay — public officials increasingly are looking to rid themselves of live auctions in favor of online auctions hosted on a third-party website. More from Government Technology.

Webinar to Highlight NLC Research Findings on Citywide Approaches to Aftershcool (September 21)
On Wednesday, October 12, the National League of Cities (NLC) will sponsor a free, hour-long webinar on a growing trend in communities nationwide: the emergence of comprehensive, city-led afterschool systems for children and youth. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

The Elusive Goal of ‘Unfair’ Budgeting (September 21)
We hear lot about how performance budgeting can help in tough fiscal times. But governments are making little use of it. More from Governing.

Using Public Surveillance Systems for Crime Control and Prevention (September 21)
A new publication from the Urban Institute, Using Public Surveillance Systems for Crime Control and Prevention: A Practical Guide for Law Enforcement and Their Municipal Partners, is designed to guide city administrators, law enforcement agencies, and their municipal partners in implementing and employing public surveillance systems in a manner that will have the greatest impact on public safety.

Debunking the Cul-de-Sac (September 21)
Descend from 40,000 feet into just about any major metropolitan airport in the United States, and patterns of the trajectory of American life over the last century become clearly visible. More from The Atlantic Cities.

Right Up Your Alley: The Hidden Housing Trend (September 21)
Vancouver, B.C., is working to incorporate more density in traditional single-family neighborhoods by allowing additional dwellings in the backyard, adjacent to alleys. More from Grist.

Be Aware (and Beware) of Campbell’s Law (September 21)
When suggesting, adopting, or employing a performance measure, all public officials should be aware of—and beware of—Campbell’s Law. More from Bob Behn's Performance Leadership Report.

MRSC Rosters – Free October Webinars (September)
Learn how MRSC Rosters, a shared small public works and consultant roster service, can help your public agency use the roster process. Currently 223 Washington cities, counties, and special purpose districts have MRSC Rosters host and maintain their rosters as a convenient and affordable alternative to maintaining their own rosters. Register for a free MRSC Rosters Overview Webinar.

The Increase in the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD) from July 2010 to July 2011 Is 2.755 Percent (September 20)
This means, for most jurisdictions, that the maximum allowable levy increase for 2012 is 1 percent of the 2011 levy (plus taxes on new construction and the change in the value of state-assessed utility property). More

Calling All Webmasters (September 14)
If you work on your local government website but have been deterred by the time and expense of traveling to Seattle for the semi-annual Local Government Webmasters meetings organized by MRSC, now is your chance to participate. For the next meeting to be held on Thursday, September 29, from 10:00 to 3:00, we will be experimenting with a combination of on-site and remote participation. Registration is free but limited to Washington local governments.

Interlocal Agreements and Architectural/Engineering Services (September 14)
The attorney general recently issued a formal opinion (AGO 2011 No. 2) resolving an alleged conflict between the Interlocal Cooperation Act statutes in chapter 39.34 RCW and the state statutes dealing with the procurement of architectural and engineering services in chapter 39.80 RCW. The AGO provides that in most situations local government agencies cannot bypass the requirements of chapter 39.80 and enter into interlocal agreements to obtain professional services from another local government agency. As a result, some local governments might incur increased costs for future projects.

Viewing Performance Holistically: Expected, Optimum, and Actual Performance (September 14)
The most meaningful measures of performance, especially those assessing outcomes, capture the multifaceted nature of public policy issues. More from ICMA.

WAPRO Fall Conference – October 20 (September 14)
The Washington Association of Public Records Officers’ (WAPRO) Fall Conference is scheduled for October 20, 2011 in Lakewood Washington, and registration is open. Attendance has been approved for 5.5 CLE Credits, 1 CMC Experience point, or 1 MMC Professional and Social point.

'Parklets' Proliferate along the Pacific (September 14)
San Francisco and Vancouver have learned that sometimes a parking space is better off being converted into a minuscule public space. More from New Urban Network.

Federal Sign Mandate Likely to be Eliminated (September 14)
The U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing to eliminate dozens of regulations on traffic signs, which will likely save counties millions of dollars. More from NACo's County News.

The Role of Psychological Fitness-for-Duty Evaluations in Law Enforcement (September 14)
Police employers have a legal duty to ensure that police officers under their command are mentally and emotionally fit to perform their duties, and failure to do so can result in significant civil liability to the employer and serious consequences. More from The Police Chief.

The Sickness of Seattle's Distant Suburbs (September 14)
Foreclosures, short sales, and other troubles in Snohomish County, Washington, reveal the poor prospects of outlying suburbs, says architect and critic Mark Hinshaw. More from New Urban Network.

Special Report - The Hours of Opportunity (September 14)
High-quality afterschool and summer programs promote positive child and youth development, support in-school learning and facilitate the growth of a skilled workforce. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

Spend More—Not Less—on IT (September 14)
Cutting technology spending along with everything else is a false economy. IT-enabled productivity improvements can save more than they cost. More from Governing.

Web Sightings - Population and Demographic Information (September 07)
This month we are highlighting demographic information sources as data from the 2010 U.S. Census of population becomes available.

MRSC Webpages:

Key Resources

Local and Regional Demographic Information

Other Resources

Civic Awareness: Key to Civil Discourse (September 07)
Civic Awareness Month, which occurs in September, reminds us of the importance of an educated and engaged citizenry. More from Local Government Matters.

2011 Best of the Web Award Winners Announced (September 07)
Arkansas, Seattle and Stearns County, Minn., were named first-place winners of the 2011 Best of the Web awards program, in an announcement Thursday, Sept. 1. More from Government Technology.

Save the Knowledge Keepers (September 07)
The endangered resources of government institutions are the knowledge keepers who are critical to carrying the organization forward during downsizing, consolidating, reengineering, and outsourcing of services. More from Public Management.

Missed One of Our Webinars? (September 07)
If you were not able to attend our recent webinars on Contracting for Architectural and Engineering Services or Budget Suggestions for 2012, the recordings are now available for viewing. Also note our webinar on Public Records Disclosure to be held on September 21 at 10:00.

Demographics as Destiny (September 07)
Looking at the location and lifestyle preferences of Gen X and Y, as well as the preferences of aging boomers, walking, biking and transit are about to become the next wave of transportation to shape our urban areas. More from Citiwire.

Small Energy-Efficiency Investments Add Up (September 07)
States and cities are finding that even the simplest tasks, like switching to LED streetlight bulbs, can result in significant savings. More from Governing.

National Preparedness Month: Are You Ready for What You Don’t Expect? (September 07)
There are two ways to approach preparedness. The first is planning for what you expect to happen. The other is to ready yourself for what you can’t even imagine. More from ICMA.

Click Here for More Revenue (September 07)
The Washington State Department of Transportation is testing advertising on some of its dot-com web pages in an effort to increase revenue. More from Governing.

‘Change by Us’ Connects Citizens to Government (September 07)
Seeking to reinvent the relationship between citizens and government, a national nonprofit and a New York-based media design firm have created Change by Us, a digital platform intended to foster better engagement. More from Government Technology.

Little Progress on National Public Safety Network 10 Years After 9/11 (September 07)
A decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, interoperability — or the ability for emergency first responders to communicate with one another regardless of the technology they use — remains a work in progress. More from Government Technology.

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